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On many levels UNIT was an incongruous addition to Doctor Who, but stories featuring the Brigadier and his successors have proved very useful…
UNIT personnel from the last five decades: Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney) in Terror of the Autons (1971), Private Ross Jenkins (Christian Cooke) in The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky (2008) and Brigadier Winifred Bambera (Angela Bruce) in Battlefield (1989).
John Breslin as Captain Munro with Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier in a rehearsal shot from Episode 2 of Spearhead from Space (1970).

What is a military organisation like UNIT doing in Doctor Who? Isn’t it kind of the opposite of the whole premise? The Doctor is an iconoclast, not part of the establishment. He is a man of peace who believes that violence never ends violence. And he’s a traveller, a wanderer in time and space. So what is he doing stuck in the Home Counties of England in only one time?

Ever since I was a kid, reading the Target novelisations of Jon Pertwee’s stories, this has puzzled me. It’s as if, for a couple of years in the early 1970s, Doctor Who became a different series altogether. A more formulaic one and a more generic one. The ‘scientist working alongside the military’ set-up is very derivative of alien-invasion films such as the 1967 Hammer production of Quatermass and the Pit, as well as bearing a marked similarity to the format of the contemporaneous ITC Entertainment series UFO.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

Contents include: • An exclusive interview with Bradley Walsh • Previews of the next four episodes: Rosa, Arachnids in the UK, The Tsuranga Conundrum and Demons of the Punjab • A tribute to Michael Pickwoad, Doctor Who's production designer from 2010 to 2017 • A look back at the origins of UNIT, which made its debut in Doctor Who 50 years ago • DWM investigates the role a military organisation like UNIT plays in Doctor Who • An interview with John Levene, who played UNIT's Sergeant Benton • Members of Series 11's Script and Story Department describe their roles • The Thirteenth Doctor makes her DWM comic strip debut in part one of Warmonger • A tribute to Jacqueline Pearce, who was Chessene in 1985's The Two Doctors and more recently played Cardinal Ollistra in Big Finish's War Doctor audio adventures • The Time Team listens to some Who-related chart hits • Tips from Thirteenth Doctor cosplayers • Our verdict on the first two episodes of Series 11: The Woman Who Fell to Earth and The Ghost Monument • Previews, audio and book reviews, news, The Blogs of Doom, prize-winning competitions and much, much more!